Where were you?

Just before noon on Wednesday when the Americans scored arguably the biggest goal in U.S. soccer history?

When Landon Donovan flew down the field.

When Jozy Altidore made the cross.

When Clint Dempsey charged through.

And then, with one perfect touch, there in the 91st minute, your eyes hardly believing what your heart was so sure it was feeling: Donovan finished.

Did you spring from your chair? Scream with abandon? Hug your friends as tears welled in your eyes?

Maybe you were home with your kids, jumping wildly in the family room, your heart swelling with joy and pride, as a pile of players formed on the grass in South Africa.

The U.S. beat Algeria 1-0 in stoppage time to advance from group play in the World Cup, setting off wild celebrations half a globe away.

They won. We won.

It was the wildest of finishes that capped the most stunning show of resilience this team has yet flashed.

And now on to the Round of 16, where the Yanks will play Ghana at 2:30 p.m. today.

Where were you when time stood still?

 

Marsha Lycan, coach of Maine Coast United U-17 girls, five-time state champs

Marsha Lycan had a feeling. She can’t explain why but the chances were there. The energy was shifting. She felt a goal coming.

She was home with her 12-year-old son in Falmouth, the pair on the edge of their seats as goalie Tim Howard chucked the ball to Donovan on the right wing near half field. She watched him dart to the net.

“I’m like a feeling type of person,” said Lycan. “I said to my son Brody with about 10 minutes left in regulation, ‘I just know they’re going to do it. I know they’re going to do it.’ “

Then came extra time. She felt skeptical but still, her gut told her the team would pull it out.

“When he put that ball in, Brody and I screamed at the top of our lungs for I think five minutes,” said Lycan. “I was jumping up and down. We screamed so loud. I kept wondering if the neighbors would think a murder was being committed. It was just so exciting.”

Her voice is still hoarse.

“I think soccer on the national scene has finally arrived,” said Lycan. “I think people will look back at this World Cup. That was the year the U.S. finally closed the gap.”

She plans to be glued to a television at 2 p.m. today. Ghana, she knows, is no joke. It beat the U.S. in the last World Cup.

 

John Meek, British transplant, assistant girls’ varsity coach at Falmouth

Meek was, he thinks, the only Brit at the bar he chose to watch Wednesday morning’s matches with his soccer friends.

England’s 1-0 win against Slovenia had just finished, muted to appease American fans, of course, when extra time began in the U.S.-Algeria game.

If things ended in a draw, the Yanks would be out. England would win Group C. Slovenia would advance.

“I think I would have been Public Enemy No. 1 if England had won and Landon Donovan hadn’t scored,” said Meek. “the end there was quite a good crowd.”

As for today, Meek will be among the neutral game watchers.

England won’t play until 10 a.m. Sunday.

He worries a bit for his American friends who have watched the midfield get stretched and the defense hung out to dry a few times in front of Howard.

“They play pretty open. They let goals in. I’d expect them to score again, but there’s a concern how many they’re going to give up,” said Meek. “I think it will be a really interesting game against Ghana. They have that African creativity about their play. I’ll be watching.”

 

Wally LeBlanc, girls’ varsity coach at Windham High

School is out and LeBlanc, a teacher at Westbrook, was home alone.

That didn’t stop him from erupting.

“I was all alone. And I was screaming at my television set,” said LeBlanc. “I was on the edge of my seat. I felt like it was one of those games where they had wonderful chances but couldn’t finish.”

Then came the run.

The charge to goal.

The cross, touched by the Algerian goalie, before it bounced out about 7 yards.

“I thought, ‘there it is. There’s our chance. It’s over,’ ” said LeBlanc. “Then the ball squirted loose. For (Donovan) to make that play, to keep running and be on the receiving end? He thoroughly deserved it.

“That was a fitting ending for someone who is a hero in so many soccer players’ eyes to put that ball in so they could advance.”

LeBlanc sees this team’s resiliency. He likes Coach Bob Bradley.

“I think he’s done a wonderful job in allowing these players to believe in themselves,” said LeBlanc.

“They’re not a finesse team, but what they do have is a work ethic. They held onto that. And it paid off for them.”

Later that night, he went to soccer practice. His girls had a scrimmage and tied 2-2.

“It’s all they were talking about. What a wonderful moment it was,” said LeBlanc. “It’s nice to see high school players watching high-level soccer. It resonated with the girls.”

Meek will be right in front of the TV again today.

“It’s not a given to beat Ghana, but I think they have a real good draw,” said LeBlanc. “It gives them a chance.”

 

Emma Clark, all-state girls’ soccer MVP from York

Today, Emma Clark will sit exactly where she has for every U.S. game this World Cup.

She will be in her friend’s living room, navy U.S. jersey on, sitting on the corner couch, watching with three players from the York boys’ team. Same as always.

“We all sit in the same spots,” said Clark.

Like Wednesday morning, when Donovan scored.

“You just knew they had to get one,” said Clark. “We immediately jumped up. Two hands in the air. Screaming, running all over the place. I felt like our adrenaline was pumping more than theirs.”

There were high-fives, tackles to the couch: “It was amazing.”

Clark, one of the best schoolgirl players to come out of Maine, will play for Boston University in the fall. She knows the game. Loves it.

“When Howard threw that ball to the wing you could tell it was going somewhere,” she said. “They were attacking so much and it looked like it was going to hurt them. But for that final goal it paid off. You were so relieved. It was a picture-perfect play.”

She went to soccer practice Thursday night.

Every shot on goal called for a shout-out to Landon Donovan.

“Everyone has been talking about how amazing it was,” she said.

She knocks wood before speaking of running through Ghana today. She likes the draw.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: [email protected]